Commentary on Avid/Tops in the Madison Schools

Logan Wroge:

The board also approved a three-year partnership renewal with the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County for the college preparation program AVID/TOPS.

The program is meant to prepare students for post-secondary education, particularly low-income and minority students or students who would be the first in their family to go to college. AVID/TOPS is available to students at the four comprehensive high schools and 11 middle schools.

The Boys & Girls Club provides mentoring, summer internship opportunities and college coaching to students at the high schools and two middle schools, Cherokee and Wright, and partners with the district on tutoring, college field trips and career planning.

According to an evaluation of AVID/TOPS, conducted by a unit within UW-Madison’s Wisconsin Center for Education Research, students who were in the AVID/TOPS program through 12th grade had a grade-point-average of 2.76 compared with 2.67 in the district overall.

About 75% of AVID/TOPS students initially enrolled at a post-secondary institution compared with 60.4% of all students. Although, the evaluation found that while there is some evidence to suggest AVID/TOPS students are more likely to stay in college, it is not statistically significant.

Jed Richardson, Grant Sim and Brie Chapa at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research:

The Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) and the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County (BGCDC) have partnered with the Wisconsin Evaluation Collaborative to conduct an assessment of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program and Teens of Promise (TOPS) program in high school and postsecondary education. AVID/TOPS is a collaborative partnership between MMSD and the BGCDC designed to increase academic achievement, college preparation, postsecondary educational access, and degree attainment for students in the middle academically (i.e. grade point averages between 2.0 and 3.5) who are traditionally underrepresented in higher education. The program operates in all four MMSD high schools. This 2017-2018 AVID/TOPS report presents results from analyses of measurable student outcomes that reflect the program’s stated goals. These analyses focus on AVID/TOPS program impacts in three areas—2017-2018 academic and engagement outcomes, longitudinal end-of- high school outcomes, and longitudinal postsecondary outcomes. Research questions guiding these analyses are as follows:

1. How does the academic achievement of students who participated in the AVID/TOPS program in high school compare to that of academically and demographically similar peers during the 2017-18 academic year?
2. How does the end-of-high school academic achievement of students who participated in the AVID/TOPS program in high school compare to academically and demographically similar non- AVID/TOPS peers? How do impacts vary by the number of years students participated in AVID?

3. How do college enrollment, persistence, and graduation outcomes of AVID/TOPS high school participants compare to the outcomes of academically and demographically similar peers?

4. Are students, MMSD AVID staff, and BGCDC TOPS staff satisfied with the program?

Estimates of program effects were computed using propensity score matching. This statistical method matches AVID/TOPS and non- AVID/TOPS students based on their individual probabilities of high school AVID/TOPS participation. Groups of students were matched within cohort and high school, and balanced within eighth
participation academic, socioeconomic categoriescomparing selected AVID/TOPS students to all of their grade-level peers, this propensity score matching methodology compared AVID/TOPS students to other students who had similar academic and demographic profiles but chose not to participate.

About the WCER

There is a long term relationship between the WCER and the taxpayer funded Madison K-12 School District.

The taxpayer supported Madison School District is a WCER “funder”.